Passing on the passion for stitching

Just before her death last November, Christine Dartley completed a counted cross-stitch sampler of black stitches on white fabric that her fellow “stitchers” described as “unbelievable” and “quite extraordinary.”

The sampler, which took her about two years to complete, was just one of many needlework works of art to Ms. Dartley’s credit. Needlework was her passion, her husband, Ken Dartley, told The Bulletin last week, and the reason he established the Christine Dartley Memorial Fund.

The fund will sponsor a program, Teaching a New Generation How to Stitch, offered on two Saturdays, May 31 and June 14, from 2 to 3:30 at the Wilton Historical Society, 224 Danbury Road. Participants may attend one or both days.

The program is open to all ages, and members of the Fairfield County chapter of the Embroiderers’ Guild of America — to which Ms. Dartley belonged — will teach the basics of needlework to those who sign up.

Depending on the age and ability of those who participate, several projects will be offered. Each may be completed in one or two sessions.

“Counted cross-stitch is done on a blank canvas,” said Julie Stillwell, president of the chapter. A very simple project —  a bookmark — will be offered to those with no experience.

“For people who are a little more advanced, we have a little ABC sampler and another with a small house stitched in various colors,” Ms. Stillwell said. “They could be used for a sachet or a box cover.”

Those with some stitching experience could work on a free-form project that would involve drawing a design, transferring it and stitching. That would take both sessions.

“We will take people of all abilities,” she said. If the group is varied, the projects will be varied. She stressed the program is appropriate for adults as well as children.

“Our members are volunteering their time in Chris’s memory,” she said.

“Chris really loved teaching, and that’s why this initiative is in her name,” Mr. Dartley said. For many years she volunteered for the fourth grade class trip to the historical society and introduced the children to stitching.

That trip allows for only a very short introduction, and Mr. Dartley wanted to arrange a longer, more meaningful program.

“It’s wonderful what Ken is trying to do,” Ms. Stillwell said of Mr. Dartley. Ms. Stillwell said she knew Ms. Dartley for about four years and described her as “very active in the background, not looking for recognition or the spotlight. Whatever we asked her to do, she did. She did the history book for us,” taking photos of chapter events and putting them in a book.

“She was a very avid stitcher. Her work was incredible,” Ms. Stillwell said.

Another member of the guild, Patria Swann, knew Ms. Dartley much longer.

“She was a lovely person, the light of our chapter,” Ms. Swann said. “She was our historian and arranged for several [demonstration] venues for us in Wilton.

“She was just a lovely, lovely person with a wonderful smile.”

For information about the embroidery workshop, call 203-762-7257.